Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Isaiah 49: 8-15
Psalm 145: 8-9, 13-14, 17-18
John 5: 17-30
Hope comes through today’s readings. In the First Reading, Isaiah is speaking to those in exile, reassuring them with God’s Word which reminds the people that God will restore them to the Promised Land and will provide for them on their journey back home. God will care for the Chosen People more than a loving mother cares for the child of her womb.
The psalm reminds us that the Lord is kind and merciful. The Lord is faithful to the promises made and is compassionate toward the people of God. For “the Lord is near to all who call upon the Lord, to all who call upon the Lord in truth.”
Jesus, in the Gospel, speaks about the close relationship He has with His Abba-Father. The religious leaders pick up on the fact that He is putting Himself on the same level as God, and therefore they consider Him a heretic and someone Who must be removed. Jesus expands upon His relationship with His Abba, saying that He is totally in sync with His Abba’s will and He will bring eternal life to all who also seek to do the will the Father.
The hope I sense in the readings comes from knowing that God wants the best for us. Isaiah reminds us that even if a mother could forget the child to whom she has given life, God will never forget us. Even though events and circumstances in our life seem to be going poorly, God is still with us and will bring us home. God wants to give us the very best. That is the hope to which we need to cling, especially when we face trying times. Isaiah was speaking these words to people who had been led away in exile. They had experienced the darkest days of their lives. Isaiah was comforting them with the promise that God would take care of them, nourish them, and lead them back. Yes, in some ways the exile was a result of the people’s unfaithfulness, but God was not going to hold that against them forever, as some of the people thought. If they turned to God and sought the divine will in their lives, God would be there for them and lead them back to the Promised Land.
I guess I need to be attuned to that message right now. We all have had a trying twelve months with the pandemic. Some people I know are going through even rougher times. It seems to be some of the darkest days in their lives. Others have been coping with the civil unrest of the past year. Humanly speaking, I don’t know how they are coping with the upheavals in their lives. What can I say to them? I need to reassure them of hope. I seek to encourage them to keep their eyes focused on the Lord Jesus and His message. I want to send the same message to them that Isaiah spoke to the people in exile. God will restore and lift up all who seek Him, for, as the psalm remind us, “the Lord is kind and merciful.”
Jesus also speaks of God’s sending the very best, especially to those who turn to God for help. God the Abba-Father sent the Son, the very best – the One Who is in total relationship with the Abba. The Son seeks to do the will of His Abba and that means giving life to those who put their faith in the One sent by the Abba. Jesus speaks of restoring to life to those who are dead. I see this referring not just to those who are physically dead, but to those who seem to be experiencing a death in certain aspects of their lives. Jesus promises to bring life to those who seem lifeless.
This is the message all of us need to hear, especially if we are going through a period in our lives when everything seems to be dying. God is offering us hope and life. This is the message we need to share with those going through rough times, whether that be sickness, surgery, loved ones who are aging and not acting like themselves, changes in job status, people facing false accusations against them, relational problems, financial difficulties, concerns for members of their families who are experiencing difficulties, or a combination of two more of the above. No matter what seems to be weighing us down, God is offering us hope and the promise that God will bring us home. All we need do is turn more fully toward our God and call upon the Lord Jesus in truth. Yes, we must admit if we may have missed the mark (sinned), and we must express our desire to get back on target. If we cry out, trusting in the mercy of God, God will restore us.
Jesus came to remind us of the love which the Abba-Father has for us. Let us, with hope, cling to the truth of God’s love. Let us take seriously Jesus’ words: “I solemnly assure you, the one who hears My Word and has faith in the One Who sent me, possesses eternal life... has passed from death to life.” This is promise of the Best One sent by the heavenly Abba, who loves us more than a mother loves the child whom she has carried within her for nine months. Let us cling to this hope.